Coming to a virtual opening at Laemmle Cinemas from writer/director Praveen Morchhale and Oration comes a film of one woman’s attempt to break away from being a WIDOW OF SILENCE.
Aasia’s (Shilpi Marwaha) husband was abducted seven years ago and she is still holding out hope that he is alive. Living in Kashmir, a conflict that has lasted over thirty years has affect families who are also still waiting for news on loved ones. Considered a half-widow, the term to officials means that women like Aasia have husbands missing but not declared dead.
Taking care of teen daughter Inaya (Noorjaham) and a mother-in-law who has not spoken since her son’s abduction, Aasia works in a hospital as a trainee nurse trying to take care of the family. Inaya is dealing with her own struggle as the children at school make it clear that she is not accepted as the daughter of a half-widow with constant harassment.
Continuing to go daily to the Registar’s office, all she needs is a death certificate in order to claim her husband’s land. The problem is that the Registar is a man who tries to convince Aasia of her only choices and she refuses to put herself in any situation he suggests. Also, Aasia is struggling with a marriage proposal that could make her life easier.
Aasia and Inaya live in a world of isolation and the way out is unclear.
Marwaha as Aasia gives a stellar and stoic performance as a woman who has spent years trying to find an acceptable place in her Kashmir village. Caring for one woman who won’t speak and a child who can only fight back, this performance is one of a woman in constant motion but never gaining traction. Marwaha gives us the story of Aasia with actions but on her face is the constant struggle to remain focused on her mission – her husband’s death certificate.
Noorjaham as Inaya is a young girl who also is in constant motion without gaining traction. There is no way for her to escape the torment of her teenage peers who find great joy in reminding her that the “half-widow” culture applies to children as well and so does their distain.
Other cast include Ajay Chourey as the Registar and Bilal Ahmad as the taxi driver.
Oration’s philosophy is that every project it takes on needs to be considered as a close partnership with filmmakers. Looking at the total picture, we work for the individual film we think will make a difference even in a challenging film environment. For more information please visit www.orationfilms.com.
The film has premiered at the Kolkata International Film Festival, the Busan International Film Festival, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Seattle International Film Festival, Jerusalem International Film Festival, Taipei International Film Festival, Hamburg International Film Festival, Goteborg Film Festival, International Film Festival of Asian Cinema, MOOOV Film Festival winner of Best Film and the Indian Festival of Los Angeles receiving the Grand Jury award for Best Feature.
WIDOW OF SILENCE is the seven-year struggle of one woman who tries to hold onto hope for a husband but also moves forward to make a life for what is left of her family. There is such a struggle for survival that rests in the hands of a corrupt government official taking advantage of all the women like Aasia who need that one piece of paper.
This is a film that is experienced as the actors guide you through the story and character lives of struggle, pain, humiliation and ultimate sacrifice. The only brief moments are the poetic taxi rides provided by Bilal that gave me pause. The cinematography offers a grim look as to what conflict does to even the most remote places in Kashmir yet the people see beauty as well.
In the end – one nightmare brings another.